Seldom does a technology stand-alone without creative individuals tweaking it to address a new consumer demand, often one that consumers didn’t know they wanted! The Internet is the best example—a communication tool for the military has morphed into a platform that has seen an explosion in social networking—everything from finding a new or used item via Amazon or Ebay to re-establishing a connection with on old grade school friend. And hundreds of new uses are added every day. But a new consumer revolution is at hand that perhaps will exceed the Internet in new uses—On Demand Systems (ODS). On demand systems match buyers and sellers in real time based on location. They need an access point for the buyer and seller that is location specific—usually a cell phone, but it could be a computer. Car for hire services such as Lyft and Uber match someone that needs a ride with someone close by that is willing to provide that service—in real time. No need to wait in a taxi line or try to hail one on the street. Ditto for a room for the night—Airbnb matches your need for a room is a specific town/city/area with individuals that are willing to provide you that room in their home (generally).
But think creatively and other possibilities emerge—why spend time in a doctor’s (or accountant’s, lawyer’s, or teacher’s) office waiting to see them? An ODS will match when the doctor can see you with your location and narrow the window of time that you will have to wait to essentially zero. In fact, Eric Topol, M.D. wrote a book in 2015 on this very issue called “The Patient Will See You Now”. Expand this concept and it is easy to see how businesses that care about customers will put this concept to work—utility hookups/disconnects, routine car maintenance and a new one that several companies in large cities are putting in place—car refueling. Fuel trucks arrive at the customer’s convenience wherever. Food companies such as Blue Apron and Plated deliver to the customer’s home all that is necessary to cook a meal—great for single households (28% of all households in the U.S.) Several acute care hospitals are providing a service called hospital beds at home whereby the hospital provides a hospital bed for the patient’s home and connects the patient via telemedicine to the hospital and the healthcare providers from the hospital go to the patient’s home to provide care. Or the latest in medicine—instant access for a patient with a doctor via real time on the patient’s cell phone or their computer with each viewing each other with a system similar to Skype.
The possibilities for ODS are arriving in record numbers as individuals upgrade to smart phones (currently 207 million Americans have smart phones and growing at 10% a year). ODS sets a new standard for companies and organizations—provide real time consumer service that minimizes consumer wait time to near zero, or have no business.